Exile on Mainstream Records
March 8th, 2011
Release length: 49:52
The music on Concrete Catalyst is basically your typical Stoner Rock approach, often having a slow chugging method mixed with standard Rock chords that give off an atmosphere that is a little hard to describe, essentially like that of a rock album, but one you would expect to kick back and begin to trip too slightly. The music typically rans the course, ranging from traditional Rock influences to a bass heavy Primus approach, and a vocal attempt that really makes the release sound a little more unique. The vocals are clean singing, but a higher pitch that one might expect from today’s pop radio rock songs, but sometimes are performed in a manner similar to the erratic vocals found on a System of a Down CD, though never really being screamed outside of the track “Sultana”, which features a stronger, heavier section. Of course this isn’t the only time the group plays heavier music, as it does appear randomly on the CD, but this is one of the very few times the vocals really seem to get into it other then the clean singing, though the range is nice, and there’s usually a decent amount of emotion in the vocals to work with the well performed music and the atmospheres that they set, such as “Rocking Chair” with it’s lighter, somber vocals against the acoustic, depressing Folkish atmosphere.
While the more upbeat tracks like “Oceanriver” are enjoyable, it’s the ones that are a little darker or more somber that really shine on the recording. On top of “Sultana”, “Wild Geese Yell” is a small instrumental that has a darker vibe to it, which goes into “The Dragonfighter”, a much simpler song that really focuses on the altered vocals for much of it. However, when the music actually is performed and not leaving large empty gaps filled by the vocals, the song feels a little more like a heavier, darker, almost fantastical Stoner Rock track, leaving the listener feeling like they should adorn the best armor and fight a literal dragon. Sadly, these are really the only songs that seem to go that far, as the rest feel a little more light hearted. of course, that’s not to say the other tracks aren’t good. “Oceanriver” does make for a great introduction to the album, and is a solid enough song that it can keep the listener attentive throughout the entire six and a half minutes of it’s track length. You also have “Counted is Bygone” which is more upbeat then dark, but still a heavy sounding track that is really bass driven. The song itself is very enjoyable and has a little more energy in it then the other tracks on the recording.
Of course, there are other enjoyable tracks on here, but most of the typical it’s a mesh of typical Stoner Rock foundations with a hint of unique atmospheres and vocal approaches. Concrete Catalyst isn’t a bad album, but the material just isn’t the most memorable for it’s style. The lighter music sounds more Progressive then Stoner Rock at times, such as the closing track “Trainer”, which isn’t as enjoyable as some other tracks and just feels like the band took a simple concept and made it feel a little mainstream, being lax of any real atmosphere other then a vibe of generic music coupled with some basic foundations like that of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath. While some songs seem to have a Progressive Rock feel to them, this one seems to have riffs that shift towards Shoegaze throughout the recording. While not bad, it just doesn’t quite fit the Stoner vibe the band tries to give off.
Even the heavier portions of the song doesn’t really seem to save it. This is how many of the songs feel, and even the more enjoyable lighter tracks are good, but don’t really stand out much, or are even all that memorable. The darker material on here, as well as those that take on a more traditional Rock form, really feel good Stoner Rock songs, and typically encompass the cloudy feeling with the proper atmospheres that may be stereotypical to the style, but have music behind them that wants you to lay back and light up, and let your mind go to work in the world the song is creating, whether real of fantastical.
With Concrete Catalyst, it’s hit or miss. There’s no denying there’s a couple solid tracks on here that bring everything one would expect from a Stoner Rock band to the table, but other then that, it’s mostly just music that’s good, but not necessarily memorable. The vocals often stand out more then the music on some tracks, which isn’t a bad thing, but many tracks just seem to lack atmosphere, or at the very least have one, but you can’t really tell what you’re supposed to feel. Other times, the group sounds like they are bringing in a Progressive approach, or even have moments where it feels like they are branching into Shoegaze or something along those lines. In the long run, if you enjoy the style, it’s interesting, but it’s not an album you’ll ever really want to dive into head first.
01. Oceanriver – 6:37
02. Five Minutes of Resistance – 4:57
03. Sultana – 4:45
04. Rocking Chair – 6:27
05. A Poem – 4:29
06. Wild Geese Yell – 2:12
07. The Dragonfighter – 7:00
08. Counted in Bygone – 6:21
09. Trainer – 7:11
|Overall Score: 6.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Exile on Mainstream Records via Earsplit PR.